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South Korean Vice Unification Minister Chun Hae-Sung (R) shakes hands with the head of North Korean delegation Jon Jong-Su (L) after their meeting on January 17, 2018, in Panmunjom, South Korea. Photo: South Korean Unification Ministry via Getty Images

South and North Korea currently are enjoying a limited détente. But their seeming embrace, with plans for a unified Olympics team, is a symbolic act unlikely on its own to reshape U.S. policy.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in planned to resume the so-called Sunshine Policy, which uses cash and aid to leaven engagement with the North, until Pyongyang’s aggressive rhetoric and accelerated weapons testing forced him to change course. Now Kim Jong-un’s call for dialogue has resurrected his original plans.

President Trump’s cascade of threats encouraged Kim to engage Moon and help pull the South away from the Trump administration, citing U.S. "hostility." The result has been to reinforce Seoul’s already firm opposition to U.S. military action, which the South fears could trigger a Second Korean War.

At the end of the day: Contact between the U.S. and North Korea is essential to a permanent solution. Unfortunately, the Trump administration remains intransigent, pressing the DPRK to concede the main issue at stake before talks can be held — a nonstarter — and leaving the threat of war looming.

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of "Tripwire: Korea and U.S. Foreign Policy in a Changed World."

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Biden Cabinet confirmation schedule: When to watch hearings

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris on Jan. 16 in Wilmington, Delaware. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

The first hearings for President-elect Joe Biden's Cabinet nominations begin on Tuesday, with testimony from his picks to lead the departments of State, Homeland and Defense.

Why it matters: It's been a slow start for a process that usually takes place days or weeks earlier for incoming presidents. The first slate of nominees will appear on Tuesday before a Republican-controlled Senate, but that will change once the new Democratic senators-elect from Georgia are sworn in.

Kamala Harris resigns from Senate seat ahead of inauguration

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Photo: Mason Trinca/Getty Images

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris submitted her resignation from her seat in the U.S. Senate on Monday, two days before she will be sworn into her new role.

What's next: California Gov. Gavin Newsom has selected California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to serve out the rest of Harris' term, which ends in 2022.

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Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.